Making Student Timelines

Social Studies is such a fun topic to teach in first grade. At this age, students are becoming more aware of the world around them, asking questions about the past and trying to tie this information to their own lives. In first grade, we spend a fair bit of time focusing on the past, present, and future. My favorite way to teach this concept to my firsties is by making student timelines! After all, what better way for students to consider this topic than by relating it to their own life? 

Teaching the concept of timelines to your students is fun and easy with these engaging activities they will love.

Making student timelines is a great way to help young learners understand the concept of the past, present, and future. In my classroom, I always look forward to teaching this topic, since my students are always so engaged. In order to have the most success in teaching this new concept, I like to use a variety of activities. 

Getting Started With Timelines

Before we dive into making our timelines, it's important to spend some time helping my students understand this new concept. As with any new lesson, I love to start out with some group discussion. 

When starting to teach your students about timelines and chronological order, using activities like these will help put events in order from past, present, to future.I use a mini-book to introduce the topic that helps us dive into what past, present, and future mean. The book we use in our classroom defines each of these terms and then gives students the opportunity to identify a picture that illustrates the word. I've even used these books during small reading groups as a great way to get some extra reading practice that coordinates with our unit.  

Typically, my students grasp this concept pretty quickly. I will often refer to our number line as a reference point for my students and explain that just as the number line shows the numbers in order, a timeline shows events in the order they happened. 

You can also draw a quick anchor chart to provide even more visual support. In the past, I have used something my students are intimately familiar with to illustrate this - our day in the classroom.  We talk about how arrival has to come before dismissal and how we have lunch before recess.  This helps to really drive the point home for anyone who didn't quite catch the concept right off the bat. 

Activities For Learning About Timelines

After our intro, I like to use some worksheets that go along with this lesson. I use worksheets in a variety of ways, but I especially love using these ones for small groups since so much of this information is new to my kiddos. I like to make sure I am available while they are working through the material to offer guidance and help answer any questions that might arise. 

The worksheets we like to use cover lots of information about timelines, and why they are useful and provide examples of timelines. The topics include:

    Choosing a theme for your student timelines will help keep your students engaged in learning about chronological order.
  • Defining a Timeline
  • The Timeline of an Apple's Growth 
  • The Timeline of Getting Ready for School
  • Personal Event Timelines
  • Writing Pages About the Past & Future

I find that using worksheets with these topics is very beneficial to my students because they relate to their world. Often, first graders need to see how a topic fits in their world to connect meaning to it. Using worksheets and activities that focus on topics that are "first grade friendly" is the key to making this topic easy to understand and fun to learn about.

Making Student Timelines In Class 

Now, without a doubt- the best piece of this whole lesson is when students get to make their very own timeline of their life. I absolutely LOVE this activity and look forward to it every year. It takes a little planning, but it is so worth it! Not to mention, it makes a super cute bulletin board display!

Use this cute kid topper for your student's timeline activities. It's a fun craftivity your students will love.

Prepare For The Activity

I always send out a parent letter in advance of doing this activity. The letter asks families for their help in assisting their child to compile a list of events they would like to include in their timeline. Some ideas I provide include the date of birth, losing a tooth, learning to crawl, going to preschool, and more. It's always really interesting to see what families decide to include as moments of significance in their child's life! Families fill these out at home and return to school. Once we have all the forms returned, we can jump into completing the timelines! 

Making The Timelines 

Making timelines like these will help your students understand chronological order by working in pairs, in small groups or independently.To get started, students will write the first event on their timeline - the day they were born. On the timelines, we write the name of the event along with the date, and then students can draw a picture. You can also ask parents to send in photographs of the events.  Both make great final projects.

If we are tackling this project as a group, I first model this on the board with my own birthday and draw a quick illustration on my timeline. Then, I will ask students to fill in theirs and wait to move on to the next event until everyone has finished. 

We repeat this process for all 8 events and until every child has finished. The parent note I send home requests that events are written in chronological order, so this helps my students be more independent. While they work, I circulate the room and make sure all of my kiddos are on track. 

Wrapping Up The Lesson

Once complete, these are so much fun to look at! I actually have my students take turns presenting their timeline to the class and explaining each event. The students LOVE this and while it can take some time, it's so much fun to see their excitement. Sometimes I will break up this process into 2 or 3 "sessions" so we don't lose those first-grade attention spans! 

After that, I always display these on a bulletin board and then save them for their memory books. Year after year my students love this activity, and I do too! 

I hope you had fun reading about how we dive into past, present, and future lessons in our classroom! While there are many ways to teach this topic, all of the activities we used can be found in my First Grade Timelines Resource. Try some of these activities out in your room for an engaging Social Studies lesson!
Teaching the concept of timelines to your students is fun and easy with these engaging activities they will love.

Save These Ideas For Later 

Don't forget to pin these ideas to your favorite classroom Pinterest board for when you're ready to dive into Making Student Timelines! 

Teaching the concept of timelines to your students is fun and easy with these engaging activities they will love.

Post a Comment